PETALING JAYA: Her rivals are getting younger and it is getting tougher to stay competitive at the highest level.
And diver Pandelela Rinong knows she cannot rest on her laurels if she wants to nail a third successive Olympic medal in Tokyo next year.
Despite struggling with back injuries in the past, Pandelela proved she is still very much competitive at the world level after winning silver in the 10m platform synchro (with Leong Mun Yee) at the World Aquatics Championships as well as a fifth place in the individual final of the same discipline.
With qualification to the Olympics in the bag, the Sarawakian made it clear she cannot afford to be complacent.
She is willing to learn one or two new routines to prepare for the Olympics.
“China are now featuring new divers who are younger, smaller, more energetic and more powerful,” said Pandelela, referring to the Chinese duo of Chen Yuxi and Lu Wei – both just 13 but already gold and silver medallists respectively in the 10m platform individual.
“It’s not only China but Mexico, Britain and some other nations are also getting stronger.
“We have to work harder in training and maybe go abroad to further improve ourselves.
“The coach (Li Rui) has given us a week to rest. It will be back to training after that and I want to focus on learning new dives to be more competitive.
“Being able to achieve higher dive difficulties will give me a better chance as many of these younger divers are doing high difficulties.
“I cannot be in my comfort zone anymore.”
The squad are expected to head to China for a month-long training stint as part of their preparations for the Asian Diving Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September.
The 26-year-old already has two Olympic medals in her collection.
She claimed bronze in the 10m platform individual event at the 2012 London Olympics – the first medal Malaysia have won in a sport other than badminton.
She went on to win silver in the 10m platform synchro event with Cheong Jun Hoong in Rio de Janeiro four years later.
Jun Hoong, who won the gold in the 10m platform individual event at the previous world meet in Budapest, Hungary two years ago, is still on the road to recovery after undergoing a knee surgery last year.